A postcode is really just a numerical convenience for sorting mail – a suburb name however may indicate links to an historical identity or in the case of Neutral Bay, a very rich history. The actual name of this iconic suburb dates back to 1789 when Captain Phillip declared the bay to be a “neutral harbour” where all foreign vessels would dock and take on food and supplies. The suburb has a population of around 9,500 and includes Military Road to the north down to the harbour foreshore and is well serviced by buses and ferry services. Regular ferries run from Neutral Bay Wharf (Hayes Street) and from Kurraba Point Wharf to Circular Quay. The local bus service conveniently meets the ferry at Hayes Street and travellers can enjoy snacks and coffee at the local café. Easy walks reveal stately Edwardian homes, some of which have been converted to impressive strata apartments, together with many old whalers’ cottages. One of the better known residents of Neutral Bay was the famed childrens’ author May Gibbs, the creator of Snugglepot and Cuddle Pie and the Banksia Men. She lived in “Nutcote” for 44 years until her death in 1969. Her home is now a museum and open to the public and her life is also celebrated on the artistically decorated wall in May Gibbs Place at Neutral Bay Junction, just off busy Military Road and only a short distance from the well-known Oaks Hotel. At the head of Neutral Bay is Anderson Park which was created in the 1890’s. In July 1934 aviators Charles Kingsford-Smith and Gordon Taylor took off from the park for a promotional flight over Sydney. Today the Weeping Figs are much higher, locals can be seen jogging along the path or fishing or maybe just enjoying the afternoon sun and the view towards the city.
Pictures and words by Peter Morton.